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The official languages of New Zealand are English, Maori and NZ Sign Language. Don’t worry if you can’t speak Maori or NZ Sign Language though, we all mainly speak English.


The official languages of New Zealand are English, Maori and NZ Sign Language. Don’t worry if you can’t speak Maori or NZ Sign Language though, we all mainly speak English. If you want to throw in some Maori words, the best place to start is ‘Kia Ora’ which means hello as well as thank you. It’s pronounced ‘key aura’. Another one that gets used a bit is ‘whanau’ which means family. It’s pronounced ‘far now’. Lots of our towns have Maori names which might prove a bit tricky to pronounce, but give it a go. Even in English we have a few words that might confuse you, here are some explanations to help…

  • Jandals – These are otherwise known as sandals, flip flops or thongs (seriously Aussie, thongs!?).
  • Chilly Bin – Otherwise known as a cooler or an esky.
  • Dairy – Milk bar or corner store.
  • Fush and Chups – We’re actually saying Fish and Chips. Stop laughing.
  • Judder bar – These are speed bumps in the road.
  • No Exit – On a street sign, this means it’s a no through road.
  • Togs – Swimwear, bathers etc.
  • Jersey – This is a jumper or a sweater more so than a sports top.
  • Kia Ora – Pronounced ‘key-aura’, this is the Maori word for hello and thankyou.
  • Whanau – Pronounced ‘far-now’, this is the Maori word for family.

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Written by: David Kettle

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